There are many groups of people involved in both the project and project management lifecycles.
The Project Team is the group responsible for planning and executing the project. It consists of a Project Manager and a variable number of Project Team members, who are brought in to deliver their tasks according to the project schedule.
The Project Manager is the person responsible for ensuring that the Project Team completes the project. The Project Manager develops the Project Plan with the team and manages the team’s performance of project tasks. It is also the responsibility of the Project Manager to secure acceptance and approval of deliverables from the Project Sponsor and Stakeholders. The Project Manager is responsible for communication, including status reporting, risk management, escalation of issues that cannot be resolved in the team, and, in general, making sure the project is delivered in budget, on schedule, and within scope.
The Project Team Members are responsible for executing tasks and producing deliverables as outlined in the Project Plan and directed by the Project Manager, at whatever level of effort or participation has been defined for them.
On larger projects, some Project Team members may serve as Team Leads, providing task and technical leadership, and sometimes maintaining a portion of the project plan.
The Executive Sponsor is a manager with demonstrable interest in the outcome of the project who is ultimately responsible for securing spending authority and resources for the project. Ideally, the Executive Sponsor should be the highest-ranking manager possible, in proportion to the project size and scope. The Executive Sponsor acts as a vocal and visible champion, legitimizes the project’s goals and objectives, keeps abreast of major project activities, and is the ultimate decision-maker for the project. The Executive Sponsor provides support for the Project Sponsor and/or Project Director and Project Manager and has final approval of all scope changes, and signs off on approvals to proceed to each succeeding project phase. The Executive Sponsor may elect to delegate some of the above responsibilities to the Project Sponsor and/or Project Director.
The Project Sponsor and/or Project Director is a manager with demonstrable interest in the outcome of the project who is responsible for securing spending authority and resources for the project. The Project Sponsor acts as a vocal and visible champion, legitimizes the project’s goals and objectives, keeps abreast of major project activities, and is a decision-maker for the project. The Project Sponsor will participate in and/or lead project initiation; the development of the Project Charter. He or she will participate in project planning (high level) and the development of the Project Initiation Plan. The Project Sponsor provides support for the Project Manager; assists with major issues, problems, and policy conflicts; removes obstacles; is active in planning the scope; approves scope changes; signs off on major deliverables; and signs off on approvals to proceed to each succeeding project phase. The Project Sponsor generally chairs the steering committee on large projects. The Project Sponsor may elect to delegate any of the above responsibilities to other personnel either on or outside the Project Team
The Steering Committee generally includes management representatives from the key organizations involved in the project oversight and control, and any other key stakeholder groups that have special interest in the outcome of the project. The Steering committee acts individually and collectively as a vocal and visible project champion throughout their representative organizations; generally they approve project deliverables, help resolve issues and policy decisions, approve scope changes, and provide direction and guidance to the project. Depending on how the project is organized, the steering committee can be involved in providing resources, assist in securing funding, act as liaisons to executive groups and sponsors, and fill other roles as defined by the project.
Customers comprise the business units that identified the need for the product or service the project will develop. Customers can be at all levels of an organization. Since it is frequently not feasible for all the Customers to be directly involved in the project, the following roles are identified:
Customer Representatives are members of the Customer community who are identified and made available to the project for their subject matter expertise. Their responsibility is to accurately represent their business units’ needs to the Project Team, and to validate the deliverables that describe the product or service that the project will produce. Customer Representatives are also expected to bring information about the project back to the Customer community. Towards the end of the project, Customer Representatives will test the product or service the project is developing, using and evaluating it while providing feedback to the Project Team.
Customer Decision-Makers are those members of the Customer community who have been designated to make project decisions on behalf of major business units that will use, or will be affected by, the product or service the project will deliver. Customer Decision-Makers are responsible for achieving consensus of their business unit on project issues and outputs, and communicating it to the Project Manager. They attend project meetings as requested by the Project Manager, review and approve process deliverables, and provide subject matter expertise to the Project Team. On some projects they may also serve as Customer Representatives or be part of the Steering Committee.
Stakeholders are all those groups, units, individuals, or organizations, internal or external to our organization, which are impacted by, or can impact, the outcomes of the project. This includes the Project Team, Sponsors, Steering Committee, Customers, and Customer co-workers who will be affected by the change in Customer work practices due to the new product or service; Customer managers affected by modified workflows or logistics; Customer correspondents affected by the quantity or quality of newly available information; and other similarly affected groups.
Key Stakeholders are a subset of Stakeholders who, if their support were to be withdrawn, would cause the project to fail.
Vendors are contracted to provide additional products or services the project will require and are another member of the Project Team.
The following examples illustrate how university roles map to project roles on small, medium, and large projects.